Sunday, May 11, 2008

People are strange!

Sometimes I just can't figure folks out and how or why they do the things they do.

I'm at our Year Round Goalie Training Centre the other night, working with a couple of students and in comes the father of a student I worked with last summer.

His son was 14 at the time and playing AA, but he was really struggling and needed some major changes to his stance and his overall game, to play better and have any chance of moving up. I saw him on average, 2 times a week for many weeks. He worked very hard to improve what I instructed him on and we saw a marked improvement.

His goal was to make AAA in August, which he did. His father was ecstatic and gave me all the credit for showing his son where he needed improvement and how to resolve his issues. He told myself and others, that Puckstoppers was the only reason his son improved so much and made the team.

So back to the other night; This fellow goes a long way out of his way to come and see me, he walks all the way around the rink and into our Training Centre and into my office area. He does the usual 'how are you' and then launches into how thrilled he is that I was able to work with his son and that - and, I quote, "you are the only reason he made it to the next level and I just wanted to thank you again, he's still using what you taught him, we're so happy with your what you did for him".

I'm thrilled his son made the team and I'm happy we got the results that they wanted, so I ask him; "why haven't I seen him back here since last summer - because as everyone should know, you can't work on something and assume its fixed forever - like anything, you have to keep working, learning and training, or you start to 'lose it'.

He stammers a bit and replies "too busy", but I'm no dummy, I've been in business too long and coached too many people, not to know when someone is lying to me. So I ask the next question, just to clarify what I already have figured out. "So will we see him this summer at our school?". "No he's going to another school" is the reply.

Well thank you for the compliment and kick in the Kahonies. Frankly I take this as an insult. Of course I understand that people want to do other camps and may 'need a change' but for someone to tell me that we''re the reason his son made it and "we're going elsewhere" is hard to swallow. The worst part is that I hear this regularly from people - "You've done wonders for my 'son/daughter, we're thrilled, but we're enrolled in someone else's camp".

Maybe it's because I really do give a damn about my students and how they progress, or maybe it's because some people have no tact - I mean go ahead and take your kid somewhere else, but don't gleefully stand in my business and tell me that we did a wonderful job, thank you, and now we're taking our money elsewhere. It's not about the money at all, but it is a business and when we do a great job, care about the student and do everything possible to help them achieve their goals and then get told "see ya" it is tough to take and insulting.

I tend not to have much in the way of an ego, and this isn't about mine, but this actually hurts me when someone doesn't have the brains to understand that they just insulted me.
What is worse, and I see this a lot, is when they come back to me after seeing 'the other guy' or going to 'the other guys school' and I have to spend 5 or 10 sessions reworking their whole mechanics or positioning because 'the other guy' taught them incorrectly or didn't care enough to understand how the student was able to play, given their physical characteristics, strength, mental toughness and ability level. Few instructors even think about these things, but WE DO!

I can't even begin to count the number of times I've had to correct 'the other guys' errors in coaching. This leads to discouraged goalies, upset parents and often I see goalies who DROP to lower levels because they aren't able to figure out what the problem is.

I've seen great goalies quit or wind up in House League, all because their parents thought it would be a good idea to see several other instructors or coaches to 'get many viewpoints'. Not that this is bad, there are lots of good goalie instructors out there, but be sure you take the time to find out of 'the other guy' is a real goalie coach, or a guy who calls himself one, or IF he is a real goalie coach be sure he knows how to work with different goalies and doesn't train everyone the same way. THIS ISN'T COACHING AND IT CAN RUIN A GOALIES CONFIDENCE.
OK this is a bit of a rant and I am admittedly upset that we did a fantastic job and lost a customer. I'm not sure how to deal with it when this happens. but it sure is frustrating. Hopefully his son doesn't run into problems and can maintain the level of play that he worked so hard to acheive.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you Chris...and while I have never met you, my father brings my son to you each summer and he has been improving. We keep him in house because, well, he is number 2 of three and we want to wait til he is really "ready" emotionally to move him up. Not to mention try-outs here for his age group is the week you have him, so politics aside I would rather he get on an "ok" team and take a lot of shots so he can use your techniques. I am hoping to come up this summer to meet you and spend some time watching what you teach my son. He was supposed to have seen you last night the 23rd but I am not sure the snow storm got him there. You will have our business for a long time, or as long as Tyler plays hockey. My dad, his dad and I believe that consistency is the best way to improve. Sorry about the "others" that have the nerve to say that kind of stuff, it is a slap in the face. But as I have found in this sport, there are a lot of people who should be called for "unsportsmanlike conduct" and aren't.

Keep up the good work.
Carri DeMaggio

Bob Houle said...

Hey Chris,

I just read your post and I know how it feels when this happens. I would give you advice that I have learned in the business world... Ask your customer why they felt the need to switch or try a new coach. It may be a hard question to ask because sometimes they may give you an answer you do not want to hear. They owe you the reason so you can improve your program. Whenever any player leaves an organization there should be an exit interview. This can be used for formal improvement to make any organization a better place. I will say when a family asks that their player be released there is always a reason why... Learn from it!!! Good luck and keep up the good work! Love the site.

Coach Robert Houle